May 31, 2008
One Citizen's Opinion of Our Immigration Laws
For one U.S. citizen's unsatisfactory experiences with the 10 year bar of a noncitizen spouse, click here.
Arizona's Sheriff Accused of Racial Profiling
It's been pretty evident that the Maricopa County Sheriff has been focusing his well-publicized efforts on folks of Latino-appearance. Howard Witt writes in the Chicago Tribune:
The newest tactic in America's quickening effort to gain control of its porous southern border starts with a cracked windshield, a broken taillight or even a failure to signal a right or left turn.
That's all the probable cause sheriff's deputies here in sprawling Maricopa County say they need to pull over a vehicle they suspect might be carrying illegal immigrants.
If the driver or the passengers fail to produce a U.S. driver's license or a proper Immigration visa, if they speak only Spanish, or if they can't otherwise convince the officer they are in the country legally, they are likely to be arrested, jailed and handed off to federal Immigration authorities for deportation.
To Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, these zero-tolerance traffic sweeps, which he recently stepped up in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods across the Phoenix metropolitan area, are a successful tool to root out the undocumented workers that many conservative leaders say have overwhelmed America's fifth-most-populous city just a three-hour drive north of the Mexican border. Arpaio's deputies have arrested more than 500 illegal immigrants so far this year.
"We're hitting this illegal Immigration on all aspects of it," said Arpaio, the elected Republican sheriff for the last 16 years. "We know how to determine whether these guys are illegal, the way the situation looks, how they are dressed, where they are coming from."
But to a growing chorus of Hispanic activists, civil rights leaders and Democratic politicians, Arpaio's policy represents a blatant case of racial profiling. It is an extreme example, they say, of anecdotes that have begun surfacing across the country in which local police agencies respond to the national backlash against illegal immigrants by aggressively targeting Spanish-speakers for the offense of "driving while brown." Click here for the full story.
The Life of Undocumented College Students
A group of Chicana/o Studies students put together a movie on the travails of undocumented college students. It is worth a look.
May 30, 2008
'Conscientious Projector: Photographs by Maria Teresa Fernandez'
A Armory Center for the Arts at Pasadena exhibition focuses on the U.S.-Mexico border fence. Photographs by Maria Teresa Fernandez focus on the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border that begins a couple of hundred feet out in the Pacific and ends about 60 miles inland.
The exhibition is in conjunction with a film screening of Crossing Arizona, presented by Conscientious Projector.
ATTORNEY GENERAL MUKASEY APPOINTS FIVE NEW MEMBERS TO THE BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS
Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced today the appointment of five new members of the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s Board of Immigration Appeals (Board). The new Board members are: Charles K. Adkins-Blanch, Anne J. Greer, Garry D. Malphrus, Hugh G. Mullane and Linda S. Wendtland. Here is what the DOJ press release says about each of the new BIA members.
Charles K. Adkins-Blanch
Mr. Adkins-Blanch has served as an immigration judge since April 2004. Before taking the bench, he served within the Executive Office for Immigration Review as the General Counsel from 1999 to 2004, as the Associate General Counsel from 1995 to 1999, and as a Judicial Law Clerk and Attorney Advisor from 1990 to 1995. Mr. Adkins-Blanch holds a B.A. degree from Grinnell College and a J.D. degree from the George Washington University National Law Center.
Anne J. Greer
Ms. Greer has served as an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge since April 2003. Prior to taking the bench, she worked as an attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals for more than 10 years. Since 1996, Ms. Greer also has served as an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University School of Law teaching immigration law. Ms. Greer holds a B.A. degree from Allegheny College, and a J.D. degree from George Mason University School of Law.
Garry D. Malphrus
Mr. Malphrus became an immigration judge in March 2005. From 2001 to 2005, he was the Associate Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council where his primary responsibilities involved matters relating to crime and sentencing, law enforcement, the Constitution, immigration and homeland security. From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Malphrus served as Chief Counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight and the Subcommittee on the Constitution. From 1993 to 1997, he served as a judicial law clerk for a series of Federal judges. Mr. Malphrus holds a B.A. degree from the University of South Carolina and a J.D. degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Hugh G. Mullane
Mr. Mullane has served as Special Counsel within the Office of Legal Policy since April 2005, where he handles legislative, policy and litigation issues relating to immigration and homeland security. From 2004 to 2005, he was the Director of Immigration Security for the Homeland Security Council at the White House. From 1995 to 2004, he served as the Senior Litigation Counsel within the Office of Immigration Litigation. Mr. Mullane holds a B.A. degree from Siena College and a J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Linda S. Wendtland
Ms. Wendtland has served as an Assistant Director in the Office of Immigration Litigation since May 1996. Prior to that time, she was a private practitioner in a law firm from 1990 to 1996. She began her legal career in the Office of Immigration Litigation in 1985, where she served until she went into private practice in 1990. Ms. Wendtland holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
More Help Needed on Filipino War Veterans Bill
CALL TO ACTION: Contact Members of the House to Support Filipino Veterans at this Critical Juncture
On April 24th, the US Senate passed S.1315, the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act by a bi-partisan vote of 96-1. The passing of this bill holds historic significance because S.1315 contains provisions to correct the over 60 year injustice to Filipino WWII Veterans by restoring their US Veteran status. It will not reduce benefits for other veterans.
The House of Representatives is close to bringing Filipino WWII veterans legislation to the floor for a vote as early as next week, but your help is needed to make sure that when this happens, we will emerge victorious. We need to secure support from both Democratic and Republican Representatives to safely pass this bill. We are so close to ending this glaring injustice. Please ACT NOW!
What YOU can do today:
Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to any member of Congress. You can also find information on your particular Representative by clicking here.
Tell them: "I urge Congressmember [insert name] to pass the House version of S. 1315 which includes provisions to restore US veteran status for Filipinos and provide them with the resources they need to live out the remainder of their lives with the honor and dignity they deserve."
You can add the following talking points:
It's now time for the House to act.
This legislation as amended, provides a range of benefits that help ALL veterans and will NOT take a dime from any current veteran.
As a community, we must unite at this critical time to pass S.1315 in the House. The remaining Filipino WWII veterans cannot wait much longer.
Equity for Filipino WWII Veterans! Mabuhay!
Please call Lillian Galedo at (510) 465-9876, extension 308 with your questions.
Petition Against Border Wall
Thousands of border residents have signed a petition against the construction of a border wall:
Thousands of El Paso/Southern New Mexico Sign Petition Against Border Wall
Signatures will be Displayed this Monday June 2nd at a Press Conference at the San Jacinto Plaza (Lagartos) at 12 Noon
Friday, May 30, 2008. During the last two weeks thousands of residents of our border region (El Paso County and Southern New Mexico) have been signing a community petition circulated by BNHR “to call upon the current administration to cease the construction of the Border Wall”, to support our local government efforts, city and county, on this issue and to call for a comprehensive solution.
The signature-collecting process will wrap up this weekend, and on Monday morning the completed petition will be presented to the El Paso County Commissioners Court, to DHS (local Border Patrol Headquarter), and to state and federal elected officials. On Tuesday, the petition will be also presented to the El Paso City Council.
This coming Monday June 2nd, at 12 Noon the thousands of signatures will be presented and displayed during a Press Conference at the San Jacinto Plaza.
The Border Network for Human Rights, along with many, members of our border community, believe this is an exercise of a long overdue community consultation process on the issues of the Border Wall and current enforcement strategies implemented in the southwest border.
Fernando Garcia, Executive Director
Border Network for Human Rights
1101 E. Yandell
El Paso, TX 79901
UFCW Investigation of ICE Raids in the South
I was privileged to participate in a hearing sponsored by the UFCW in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday. The UFCW commission heard testimony on ICE raids abuse throughout the South, including the testimony of a young teenager (a U.S. citizen) who was held at gunpoint by 5 agents who burst in to her home as she was preparing to go to school. Mary Lou Pickel reports for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A panel meets this morning [May 29] in Atlanta to call attention to civil rights violations during immigration raids.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union organized a commission to talk about issues like U.S. citizens mistaken for immigrants, the cost to taxpayers of the raids and the extent to which raids curb illegal immigration.
Teenager Justeen Mancha, who was born in Texas and lived in Reidsville, will testify. She was home alone getting ready for school when she heard several men enter her mobile home in September 2006.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted raids house to house in three Georgia counties, searching for illegal immigrants who used false documents and worked at the nearby Crider poultry plant in Stillmore.
Mancha's mother, Maria Christina Martinez, was born in Florida and used to work at the Crider poultry plant. Martinez said the agents entered without a warrant and she filed a civil rights lawsuit against the federal government through the Southern Poverty Law Center because she doesn't want anybody else to go through this treatment.
The commission meeting today is made up of labor leaders, politicians, academics, and civil rights organizations. It has held hearings in Washington, D.C., Boston and Des Moines on raids at meat-packing and poultry plants. Click here for the rest of the story.
Immigrant of the Day: Ben Ferencz (Transylvania)
Benjamin Berell Ferencz (b. March 11, 1920) was an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial, one of the twelve military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg, Germany. Later, he became a vocal advocate of the establishment of the international rule of law and of an International Criminal Court.
Born in Transylvania, Ferencz and his family immigrated to the United States when he was an infant to avoid the persecution of Hungarian Jews after Hungary had ceded the territory where they lived to Romania after World War I.
The family settled in "Hell's Kitchen" on the Lower East Side in Manhattan of New York City. Ferencz later studied crime prevention at the City College of New York and won a scholarship to Harvard Law School.
After law school, Ferencz joined the U.S. Army, where he served in an anti-aircraft artillery unit. In 1945, he was transferred to the headquarters of General Patton's Third Army, where he was assigned to a team tasked with setting up a war crimes branch. In this function, he was then sent to the concentration camps as they were liberated by the U.S. Army.
After discharged from the Army, Ferencz returned to New York, but was recruited only a few weeks later to participate as a prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials. He was appointed him Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen Case—Ferencz's first case. All of the 22 men on trial were convicted; 14 of them received death sentences.
Ferencz stayed in Germany after the Nuremberg Trials. He participated in establishing reparation and rehabilitation programs for the victims of persecutions by the Nazis, and also had a part in the negotiations that led to the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany (1952) and the first German Restitution Law (1953).
In 1957, Ferencz and his returned to the United States. After more than a decade in private law practice, Ferencz left to work for the institution of an International Criminal Court. He also published several books. His first book, published in 1975, Defining International Aggression-The Search for Peace, argued for the creation of an international criminal court.
From 1985 to 1996, Ferencz also worked as an Adjunct Professor of International Law at Pace University.
An International Criminal Court was indeed established on July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court entered in force.
Ben Ferencz's website includes much information about him, his publications, and life.
May 29, 2008
New Book: Dying to Live
City Lights has announced the release of Dying to Live A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid by Joseph Nevins, with photographs by Mizue Aizeki, a compelling account of U.S. immigration and border enforcement told through the journey of one man who perished in California's Imperial Valley while trying to reunite with his wife and child in Los Angeles
Joseph Nevins and Mizue Aizeki spent several years working on the book, researching and documenting life in southern California, the U.S-Mexico borderlands, and central Mexico. Aizeki is a documentary photographer and activist on issues of workers rights and immigrant detention and deportation. Nevins is an associate professor of geography at Vassar College, and the author of A Not-so-distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor, and Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the "Illegal Alien" and the Making of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary.
Death of a Farmworker
Susan Ferriss tells the sad story of a farmworker who died on the job. it starts:
"Until her death on May 16, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez was another undocumented farmworker at the bottom rung of California’s farm production chain. On Wednesday, nestled in a white satin coffin, the 17-year-old girl became to farm labor advocates more a symbol of what they say are secretive and abusive conditions in some of the state’s orchards and vineyards. California occupational safety authorities are investigating the girl’s death in Lodi as a heat-related fatality. The United Farm Workers Union is calling her treatment an “egregious” violation of safety regulations put into effect three years ago after three farmworkers and a construction worker died of the heat. “Maria’s death should have been prevented,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement . . . ."
UPDATE: The Sacramento Bee has put an excellent multi-media presentation of the funeral, which was attended by Governor Schwarzenegger. The United Farm Workers are organizing a pilgrammage starting on Sunday in Lodi and ending in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Immigrant of the Day: David Ngaruri Kenney (Kenya)
Our immigrant of the Day is David Ngaruri Kenney of Kenya. Kenney's compelling story is told in Asylum Denied: A Refugee's Struggle For Safety In America by Kenney and Phil Schrag (Georgetown), which is now available.
The book tells the gripping story of political refugee David Ngaruri Kenney's harrowing odyssey through the world of immigration processing in the United States. While living in his native Kenya, Kenney led a boycott to protest his government's treatment of fellow farmers. He was subsequently arrested by the Kenyan government and tortured. This book tells of Kenney's near-murder, imprisonment, and torture in Kenya; his remarkable escape to the United States; and the obstacle course of ordeals and proceedings he faced as U.S. government agencies sought to deport him to Kenya.
Immigrants, Due Process, and the "Right" to Counsel (at no expense to the government)
Doug Kerwin has a nice entry on the American Constitution Society blog on due process and immigrants, reminding us that immigrants have a tough time in removal proceedings -- especially when they are unable to secure counsel.
MALDEF, ACLU WIN PERMANENT INJUNCTION OF FARMERS BRANCH ANTI-IMMIGRANT ORDINANCE
We have previously reported on the anti-immigrant laws passed in Farmers Branch (a Dallas suburb), Texas. Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) succeeded in invalidating Ordinance 2903, an anti-immigrant ordinance enacted by the Farmers Branch City Council in January 2007. The federal court decision forbids the City from ever enforcing the Ordinance.
In a lengthy opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Sam A. Lindsay determined that Ordinance 2903 was preempted by federal law and violated Plaintiffs’ right to due process. In a separate order, Judge Lindsay also denied the City's request for a declaration that the City's latest version of the law, Ordinance 2952, is constitutional. The new ordinance does not go into effect until next month, but the federal court indicated that it too was problematic.
Noting that Farmers Branch has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to amend its discriminatory ordinance to pass legal muster, Judge Lindsay wrote: “[T]he New Ordinance is yet another attempt to circumvent the court’s prior rulings and further an agenda that runs afoul of the United States Constitution. This motion is the city’s latest attempt to get the court to accept some version of the Ordinance as a legitimate scheme to regulate immigration.”
“This ruling sends a clear message to Farmers Branch that the City cannot regulate in the area of immigration,” stated Marisol Perez, MALDEF Staff Attorney. “Farmers Branch should stop wasting its taxpayers’ money on a string of failures in court,” continued Perez. “The Court’s latest opinion is yet another affirmation of what we have argued since the first Ordinance was proposed in November 2006, and what courts across the country have recognized in other cases,” said Lisa Graybill, Legal Director for the ACLU of Texas. “No municipality has the authority to regulate immigration. The City of Farmers Branch’s repeated attempts to do so are both impractical and unconstitutional."
Amnesty International Investigating Detentions
An important announcement from Amnesty International:
Amnesty International USA is currently conducting research in the United States for a report that will investigate and document the increased use and consequences of immigration detention.
We will be focusing on bond issues and detention in county jails, and more generally looking at conditions for detainees. I am part of the research team. Our research team will be in the Bay Area from June 2 to June 6 to visit detainees, advocates and government agencies.
We would really appreciate the opportunity to speak with pro bono counsel working with detained migrants, immigrants and asylum seekers.
If you can help, please let me know when we can meet with you between June 2 and June 6. Additionally we will hold an information-exchange session at Lawyers\' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco on Monday, June 2, from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. We hope to see you there or arrange to talk to you individually.
Amnesty International wil launch a national campaign to end arbitrary detention with the release of our report in February 2009. It will include grassroots organizing and national advocacy. We may also take up individual cases if the detention has been prolonged (more than one year) or abusive.
Thanks, and look forward to hearing from you!
Sarnata Reynolds, Refugee Program Director Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. , 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20003
Direct phone: 202-675-8765 General: 202-544-0200, ext. 239 FAX 202-546-7142
May 28, 2008
Frank Sharry on Immigration Reform
Frank Sharry, formerly of the National Immigration Forum, and now of America's Voice, offers this view of immigration reform:
I am an immigrant advocate. I have worked in the nation's capitol for more than a decade in pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would enfranchise millions of undocumented workers, reunite families separated for years by restrictions and backlogs, and admit needed workers in a way that would protect their rights, and do so in a way that would restore the rule of law to our nation's dysfunctional immigration system.
A year ago I predicted that an admittedly flawed comprehensive immigration reform bill would clear the U.S. Senate, get improved and approved in the House of Representatives, and be signed into law. I was wrong. In June of 2007 the Senate bill crashed and burned before the House ever had a chance to take it up.
The so-called "grand bargain" that had been birthed in a back room by the White House and leading Republicans and Democrats in the Senate turned out to be an orphan. The right wing went nuts and mobilized in opposition to what it called an "amnesty" bill. Many in the progressive community stayed on the sidelines or actually opposed what they saw as a Bush- and business- friendly bill that was not sufficiently pro-worker and pro-immigrant.
Those of us who supported the Senate bill held our noses in doing so. We knew the Senate bill was deeply flawed, but we believed the legalization component for the 12 million undocumented immigrants was decent and the family reunification provisions could be fixed before final passage, and we were hopeful that if the bill passed the Senate, the House would make it more worker- and immigrant-friendly on a number of fronts. Truth be told, we were motivated as much by fear as by hope, for we worried that in the aftermath of a failed immigration reform effort, the situation for immigrant workers and families on the ground would become a living hell. Click here for the rest of this piece.
Immigrant of the Day: Edmund Morris (Kenya)
Edmund Morris (born May 27, 1940 in Nairobi, Kenya) is a writer best known for his biographies of United States presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. After receiving his early education in Kenya, Morris attended Rhodes University in South Africa. He worked as an advertising copywriter in London before immigrating to the United States in 1968.
Morris's biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award in 1980.
After spending 14 years as President Reagan's authorized biographer, he published the national bestseller Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan in 1999. This book generated controversy because, although Morris had access to Reagan's papers and correspondence, including his private diary, and he had been chosen as Reagan's official biographer, Morris wrote the book in a fiction-like fashion with a fictional version of himself as the narrator. Morris chose this course because, he admitted on 60 Minutes, he was never able to bring the president into focus. "He was truly one of the strangest men who’s ever lived," Morris said. "Nobody around him understood him. I, every person I interviewed, almost without exception, eventually would say, 'You know, I could never really figure him out.'"
Morris's other books include Theodore Rex (2001), the second in a projected three-volume chronicle of the life of Theodore Roosevelt, and Beethoven: The Universal Composer (2005).
Morris has also written extensively for The New Yorker, New York Times, and Harper's Magazine.
Edmund Morris lives in New York City and Kent, Connecticut with his wife and fellow biographer, Sylvia Jukes Morris.
McCain on Immigration
As Bill Hing posted yesterday, it is hard to discern John McCain's immigration stance. Is he playing immigration badminton? Media Matters reports
"In reporting on Sen. John McCain's efforts to woo Hispanic voters, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Politico, and Reuters mentioned McCain's previous support for comprehensive immigration reform but did not note that he has since said he would no longer support a comprehensive reform measure he co-sponsored."
Ron Paul on Immigration
Wajahat Ali at Goatmilk interviewed Republican (former?) Presidential candidate Ron Paul. Here is what Paul had to say on immigration:
ALI: Let’s talk about illegal immigration - it is a reality that cannot be ignored. It seems a security fence and denying those undocumented people without any benefits is draconian. Many, liberals and conservatives, say the 2006 Bush plan was the most moderate and best plan, imperfect sure, that dealt with the illegal immigration problem pragmatically. Many say the resistance to it in Congress was purely race hysteria and panic. Undocumented workers are a backbone of this nation’s hidden labor force - you know in Texas, like I know in California, our state’s respective economies would collapse without them. What’s a practical and enlightened policy taking all that into consideration when it comes to illegal immigration?
PAUL: Well, I think it should be looked at economically and through personal liberties. Economically, I think if you subsidize something, you’re going to get more of it. So, if you promise people who break the law an easy road to citizenship, they’re going to do it. So, people will get in front of the line by sneaking over the border, because they do get earlier citizenship and amnesty. Also, I think rewarding people with free medical care and free education just further compounds the problem, because that means you just impoverish the people who, in this country, are trying to work, because they end up with inflation and loss of jobs and a weak economy because this contributes to the deficit. Now, if you had a free and prosperous economy, these programs would be very, very generous. People would come and work. They know they’re not coming here for automatic citizenship or bringing their families for free medical care. They’d come and work and I think we would be very generous. I think there would be a great need. I don’t think some Americans would be looking for a scapegoat like they are today.
I think the welfare state is part of the problem, because it encourages some people not to work and that’s another incentive for people to come over. Also, trade policies help destroy the economies in the Third World nations, Mexico and Central America. Because we subsidize some of our crops that could be better raised in Mexico, and we put their farmers out of business. So, trade policy is another economic issue that makes it a bigger burden on the immigrant countries.
I cannot say that I miss Ron Paul as a candidate!
A Report: "Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News"
As regular readers of this blog well know, we often go after Lou Dobbs et al.'s " news coverage" on immigration. Well check out a report on the topic "Fear and Loathing in Prime Time: Immigration Myths and Cable News" by Media Matters.